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Onelife 25

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones talks inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China

ORIGINS OF THE SPECIES

ORIGINS OF THE SPECIES 1984 | Land Rover 90 version introduced 1985 | 90 V8 introduced - one of the most popular cars 1989 | Defender name first introduced 1992 | North American Spec (NAS) V8 introduced 1997 | Army places first order for Wolf variant And like all modern Land Rover vehicles, the engineering evolved quickly and constantly over six generations, responding to what Solihull learned from the hard use its cars were put to. The engine size grew quickly from the original 1.6 liter, and a diesel and eventually a V8 gas were added. The adoption of the Range Rover’s coil-sprung suspension on the 90 and 110 versions from 1983 finally made the Land Rover as comfortable as it was capable. Early Land Rover vehicles may seem rudimentary by comparison with the company’s current tech-laden range, but one key attribute links the very first Series I vehicles with the latest Range Rover Velar or Range Rover PHEV. Maurice Wilks bodied his creation in ‘Birmabright,’ a lightweight and rustresistant aluminum alloy, which was easier to source than steel after the war. The use of aluminum to cut weight remains a key feature of Land Rover engineering, and has become increasingly important in the race to reduce emissions and transition to hybrid and electric drive. Towards the end of its production life it’s perhaps not fully appreciated that the Defender helped directly with Land Rover’s transition to these new means of propulsion. In 2011, a fully electric Game Viewer Concept was built and put into service on a game reserve in South Africa. It could approach game silently without disturbing them, track them for eight hours, and was as capable as a standard Defender off-road while emitting “ The Defender I think in a way is the defender of wildlife. The whole Land Rover Defender story has been part of our family, too. The memories are very strong” VIRGINIA MCKENNA OBE, ACTRESS AND FOUNDER OF THE BORN FREE FOUNDATION nothing from its tailpipe. In 2013, seven Electric Defender Research Vehicles began testing. One was used at Cornwall’s Eden Project to pull a 12-ton land train with 60 passengers up a six percent gradient. Maurice and Spencer Wilks would surely have been impressed. START OF A NEW ERA In May 2015, the two millionth Defender was built by some famous names long associated with Land Rover. These included Bear Grylls and Virginia McKenna, who starred (alongside her Land Rover vehicles) in the 1966 movie Born Free, as well as (fittingly) the surviving original development engineer Arthur Goddard. The unique, bespoke car was auctioned at Bonhams that December for Land Rover’s favored charities, the Born Free Foundation, established after the movie’s release to protect the wildlife who were its real stars, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The hammer came down at a staggering 5,000, a reflection of the importance of this milestone car, and recognizing the original Land Rover as one of the most important cars ever. Just a month after the auction, on January 29, 2016, the last Defender rolled off the line at Solihull. It was a short-wheelbase convertible in Grasmere Green, designed to look as similar as possible to the very first Land Rover vehicles built there 68 years before. But this extraordinary story isn’t ending. That same day, Jaguar Land Rover Classic announced its ‘Reborn’ program to restore Series 1 vehicles to factory specification, reflecting the original Land Rover vehicle’s historical significance and importance to Land Rover. Elsewhere, in the company’s design and engineering centers, they are actively hard at work on the sequel and an exciting new era. VERSATILE PLATFORM The original Land Rover lends itself to major modifications as its separate aluminum bodywork can be removed or tailored for specific purposes. The extreme demands placed on the cars by their adventurous owners mean this often happens, and the early 1960s was a particularly fertile time for creative re-imaginings. Scottish firm Cuthbertson could fit tracks to your Series II Land Rover for crossing bogs or extreme off-road driving. Around the same time, Roadless could cut your Land Rover vehicle’s bodywork away and fit colossal tractor wheels to create the Forest Rover, capable of riding high over tree stumps and logs or through deep ruts. The bizarre ‘Floating 90’ was first seen in the water at Cowes Week in 1989, coping with the floats used by prototype amphibious military Land Rover vehicles developed in secret in the 1960s. PHOTOGRAPHY: PETER ROBAIN (1), LAND ROVER BORN FREE FOUNDATION 16

RIGHT XXXXXX 2001 | Appears in Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie 2006 | Appears in The Queen with Dame Helen Mirren 2011 | Appears in Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig 2015 | Two millionth Defender produced in May 2016 | Production finally ends on January 29 01 01 The family resemblance is clear as the Land Rover has evolved over seven decades 02 Land Rover vehicles have starred alongside James Bond in several 007 movies 03 The 1966 movie Born Free epitomized Land Rover’s ongoing involvement in wildlife conservation efforts 04 Fittingly, Arthur Goddard, one of the original 1948 development engineers, helped build the two millionth Land Rover 02 PHOTOGRAPHY: XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX 03 04 17

 

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